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Exotic and mysterious, orchids are a favourite of dedicated gardeners around the world. Due to their tropical origins, these gorgeous blooms can be quite a challenge to grow successfully. However, with a bit of dedication and information, you can cultivate some of the most show-stopping flowers on the planet.
Orchids come in every colour of the rainbow, with some absolutely gorgeous combinations. Leaves are typically rather thick and glossy, with size and shape varying widely between varieties. You can find orchids which stay as small as ten centimetres, while some grow as large as 1.2 metres.
Since orchids typically grow in wet, cool areas, most areas of Australia are not ideally suited to their cultivation. However, where there's a will, there's a way, and if you love these blooms there's no reason you can't grow them successfully. One popular way is by constructing a shadehouse. These are essentially greenhouses which are partially or fully covered, creating the wet, cool environment in which orchids naturally thrive. Another, less-costly option is to grow your orchids indoors. Hydroponic cultivation (using only water) is often very successful with orchids. Your local nursery will have many options for starting out in this exciting field of gardening.
For successful gardening it is best to choose a variety that is more suited to our environment. Choose a cymbidium orchid variety rather than a Phalaenopsis, Dendrobium or Oncidium. Cymbidiums flourish throughout May to October with tall spikes of flowers, usually with 10-20 blooms spaced evenly along the length of the stem. They come with several spikes per plant and lots of long, grass like foliage as a backdrop. These blooms are extremely long lasting, generally flowering for 4-8 weeks. As a cut flower they last equally as well. Leave the blooms on their stem, and keep the water within the vase fresh. Alternatively you can remove the individual blooms to create unique displays in small vases by simply floating them in water, or on a bed of pebbles. By adding a flower preservative you will assist in the flowers lasting for as long as possible.
Orchids as gifts are always unexpected and thoroughly appreciated, whether featuring cut flowers or whole plants. Wedding bouquets featuring orchids have been very popular in recent years as brides searched out something different yet still traditional. A single orchid worn in the hair is a sweet, quirky and unexpected accessory for outdoor parties, and that same single orchid makes an elegantly stunning display in your home or office. Wherever you choose to use them, exotic and beautiful orchids will make everybody stop and stare.